Sleeping Bear Dunes – Michigan

On July 10, we moved to Northwestern Michigan Fair in Traverse City, Michigan.  The RV park had only electric and water (no sewer connection) so we were only staying the weekend.  The Traverse City area was similar to Michiana, but less populated since it is farther north in northern Michigan.  The towns were more spread out and there were more pine trees and other beautiful foliage.  It is also close to the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, and Traverse City is along the shore of Grand Traverse Bay.

The next day, July 11, we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and went to the following places:

Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan:  There were displays with stuffed animals that could be found in the area.  It was neat to learn about the different ecosystems in the park, such as the beaches, forests, and wetlands.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive:  Very pretty drive where we could see Glen Lake from some overlooks, as well as Lake Michigan and North and South Manitou Islands (which represents the two bear cubs in the Legend of Sleeping Bear).

Dune Climb:  We climbed about half of this giant sand dune.  It was steep and very tall, so half was a lot.  From the top, I could see Glen Lake and an ocean of shining cars in the parking lot below.  Running down the dune was fun!

Glen Haven Village:  It started as a refueling stop for ships traveling west on the Great Lakes.  Over time, it grew into a village.  We stopped at the blacksmith shop, where a blacksmith apprentice told us the history of the town and showed us a hanger/hook that he had tried to make to look like one done by an experienced blacksmith.  He showed us some tools that are used in blacksmithing.  The bike racks right outside the shop had been made in the blacksmith shop.

USLSS Maritime Museum: the Museum building was closed, but there was a volunteer in the boathouse who talked to us about the U.S. Life-Saving Service and showed us the equipment used by them in many rescues in the dangerous Manitou passage.  He told us about the dozens of shipwrecks in this passage, which were common due to the shallow shoals that were unknown to sailors.

Esch Road Beach:  Esch Beach is one of the many beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  This beach had very pretty rocks and fossils on the shore.  This stretch of shoreline on Lake Michigan is also known for the Petoskey stone, which is a rock and fossilized coral.  The Petoskey stone can only be found around Lake Michigan.  The water here at Esch Beach was just like we experienced in the lower parts of the lake: cool and wavy.  In the water, there was a pretty quick decline to a (around) 4 1/2 feet deep water level.  After that, it sloped back up to where the water only covered my legs.  Out from there, I am pretty sure that the water was deep, but it was very cool to be standing on a sand dune/bar in the middle of the water.

On the way home from Sleeping Bear, we stopped at this U-pick fruit and berry farm called Jacob’s Berry Patch.  We picked local Michigan grown raspberries and cherries.  The strawberry season had just finished and the saskatoons were not quite ripe yet.  The raspberries and cherries were sweet and tasty.  The evening was cool and perfect for fruit-picking.